Children’s Artificial Eyes Need Frequent Adjustment

Most kids don’t use the word “bullying”.

For them, the problem is more about unwanted attention.

What is most important is fitting in.

If an artificial eye is well fitted and polished it should look natural and not draw unwanted attention in the playground.

As children are constantly growing the prosthetic eye will need frequent minor adjustments to keep the natural look.

For parents this means the extra effort of more frequent visits.

For kids it means being noticed for your great smile rather than your artificial eye.



What Can Be Done About Eye Discharge?

I had an email this week from a woman who has had a new prosthesis made interstate.

She was happy with the look of the eye but unhappy about the constant discharge she has been experiencing.

She told us that she felt the prosthesis was comfortable and her specialist said there was no infection.  Why then was the discharge continuing?

I thought it might be worth setting out the types of questions I would want to explore in this sort of circumstance.

When did you have the eye removed?
Sometimes it can take a few months for everything to settle into place. Especially if you had a derma fat implant. They are a fantastic implant once settled but it does take a long time before the discharge stops.

Is it possible that the eye prosthesis is too small?.
When an eye prosthesis is made from an impression of the eye socket, all the spaces are filled nicely so that the tears evaporate the same as your other eye. If the prosthesis is too small, the tears pool into the spaces in the eye socket, turn milky then come out as a gloop when you blink.

Does the eye close properly?
If it is only in the mornings that there is muck then it could be that the eyelids are not closing properly over night. Get a friend to check if the eyelids close when your eyes are closed softly.

Do you find that you suffer a bit of dryness during the day as well?
This could indicate that the prosthesis is a little too large and by having it hollowed a touch it may help too alleviate both problems.

Is there any pressure points or tenderness in the eye socket? Or a spot which feels a bit itchy?
Sometimes when an eye prosthesis is not polished properly it can cause a discharge. The scratch or a sharp edge on the prosthesis can irritate the tissue which makes the eye socket produce extra tears to flush out the problem.

Who made your eye prosthesis?
A well made professionally fitted prosthesis will cause very few problems. It is worth hunting down a reputable and experienced ocularist. Click here for O.A.A. Member List.



Putting The Life Into An Eye Prosthesis

“I’m relieved to see that you are not as sinister in real life as you are in your website photos”  That is what a new client told us this week.

Paul and I were amused as we had actually gone to some trouble to have photos taken that would look professional, demure and the like.

We don’t usually get that response from our website.   Usually it acts as a bit of an ice breaker for us.  People feel like they have already met us.

While we have very high standards for our work, we do try to keep the atmosphere pretty relaxed in our clinic.  There are children who come and go so we have toys about the place.

There is also a ukulele and a guitar in our lunch room which we bring out if we know our client is musically talented.  I’m a keen uke player and often have sing-a-longs with clients.

We like clients to feel at home here.  Sometimes a client might bring in their cherished doggie friend.  What is important is that our clients feel relaxed when they are here.

If a person is relaxed it helps us animate an eye prosthesis into life when painting it.

So if you agree with our new client that we look a bit shifty please let us know.  It might be time to update our photos!



You Should Have A Great Looking Eye Too

We had an interesting experience this week. We met someone who was coming in to replace an eye that was made thirty years ago.

She happens to know a nine year old client of ours. Our young client approached her and said, “It is time for you to get a new eye. Paul and Jenny made me a new eye and it is great. You need a nice new one too.”

I had to smile at the story. If I meet someone socially who has an eye prosthesis past its “use by” date I’d love to say something. I always chicken out – it never feels right. It always feels a bit like ambulance chasing.

It turns out that the thirty year old eye wasn’t exactly the right colour when it was first made. In my experience, people who are disappointed by the look or feel of their first prosthesis, are usually put off from going through the experience again for a long time.

If you’ve had an eye that has been uncomfortable or disappointing in some way, don’t give up. I would encourage you to have another go.

As our young client knows so clearly – you should have a great looking eye too.



The Darwin Artificial Eye Clinic is On!

On Sunday 8 February, Jenny hopped on to a plane to Darwin for the first of her twice-yearly clinics for artificial eye wearers in the Top End.

We’ve been visiting Darwin and holding clinics over the past fifteen years.

Jenny has built up some great networks amongst the medical profession up there, resulting in a pretty hectic schedule for her.

Apart from making new eyes, doing adjustments and polishings, Jenny has another exciting task. She will be doing a presentation to the Darwin Branch of the Optometrists’ Association of Australia.

Jenny plans to use our Adjusting to Eye Loss Mind Map as a guide to walking the audience through the entire process, beginning with the surgery and ending with the successful fitting of an artificial eye.

And of course she’ll be covering the psychological impact of eye loss, and the need for support. She’ll explain how our buddy system works and the role of the ArtEyes support group.

Jenny’s two weeks in Darwin will be full on. She’s already got ten to twelve people booked in to the clinic each day!

Just as well she loves the weather up there, especially as cyclones are predicted!



Temporary Artificial Eyes Save Time, Money and Hassle

When an eye is removed, a permanent fitting for an artificial eye takes place six to eight weeks later. This is to allow the socket to heal.

Making and fitting an artificial eye requires several appointments with an ocularist.

For some, this can be a period of much frustration. During the healing phase, people either hide behind sunglasses or an eye patch, or just stay at home. Then there’s the matter of organising and getting to appointments for the fitting.

For city people, this isn’t too difficult to arrange. But imagine the costs for those living in the country.

Firstly, there’s the cost of travel over hundreds of kilometres to each appointment, of which there might be five or more. Secondly, there’s the cost of accomodation if people choose to stay in the city for the entire process.

But if none of this is feasible, country people have to wait for a visit from their ocularist to their town, which might be once a year.

Over the past two years, we’ve manufactured temporary artificial eyes to alleviate this problem for country people. A temporary eye can be worn during the healing phase.

Before Christmas, we had three requests by ophthalmologists for artificial eyes for people in the south west.

Normally, these clients have two options: wait the six to eight weeks, then come up to see us in Perth; or wait till Paul does his clinic down there at Easter time.

But thanks to temporary eyes, these clients received their new eyes in time for Christmas.

All it takes is a couple of photos, one photo of the client’s eyes and the other of the whole face. From these, I can make up a temporary artificial eye, which I then post to the client. If adjustments are needed, the client can simply post it back to me.

What it meant for these people was a more enjoyable Christmas, not having to hide behind sunglasses or eye patches. Not to mention a huge saving of time, money and hassle.

While this is not the ideal way to make up an artificial eye it has made a huge difference to these peoples lives. We have only provided this service in the last couple of years and it will take a while for regional ophthalmologists to become familiar with this service.



How to Set Up a Support Group for People with Artificial Eyes

Do you, or does someone close to you, have an artificial eye, but have nobody to talk to who understands?

It’s a common experience. Losing an eye and then adjusting to life with an artificial eye aren’t the sort of things friends and family can relate to or offer advice on.

And you might think there aren’t many people in your situation. But you’re wrong. There are.

It’s a matter of finding them and getting them together as a support group.

Sound difficult? It’s not really.

Here are five easy tips to setting up a support group in your area.

1. Find an interested person to drive the idea.

All you need is one keen person with lots of enthusiasm to start the ball rolling. A great example of this is Jo Oosterhoff in WA who set up ArtEyes Jo is mother of Joey, who was born with bilateral retinoblastoma.

2. Get two or three others involved to help manage the process.

No-one can handle the establishment of a group on their own. With a few people, ideas flow and tasks get completed.

These people will meet more often than the support group. They’ll bring different skills to the group, such as printing and designing brochures to advertise events. As they say, more hands make light work. But you don’t need too many.

3. Choose a location for your first get together.

There are so many things you can do. You might like to have a picnic, play mini golf or bowls, or meet in a coffee shop.

We’ve found our picnics in the park highly successful. People have time and space to move around talking to one another over the sharing of food.

Kids gain such a lot out of these events. At picnics, they play football and cricket with kids just like them. It helps them to see they’re not the only ones with an artificial eye.

4. Decide on catering if required.

Some might balk at this, but it’s not that hard.

If you’re holding a picnic, ask people to bring a plate or a salad. Your ocularist might even chip in by supplying the meat.

It shouldn’t be an expensive affair. You’d be surprised at the generosity of places like bakeries in donating bread and rolls to charity events.

5. Let people know about the event.

The only way to do this is by involving your ocularist.

Your ocularist has a database of clients who are potential group members. Either ask him/her to send out a letter advertising your event, or you can design your own brochure/flyer to be mailed out.

Your ocularist will benefit from the support group as well. The mail-outs are a much nicer way of keeping in touch with his/her clients. Wouldn’t you prefer this form of contact to those dreaded reminder notes about the need for ongoing care of your artificial eye?

So don’t be shy. Put these five tips into action and you’ll be on your way to your first support group event.



Artificial Eyes Goes International – Launch of our new web site

We are proud to announce the launch of our new international web site artificialeyes.net

The aim of this new site is to provide artificial eye resources to people all around the world.

About one thousand people from many countries around the globe visit our current Australian site each month. But our resources are not always relevant to them. That’s why we wanted to set up an international site, a one-stop shop for anyone with an artificial eye.

Currently on Artificial Eyes you can:

The international site is still under development. Another of our major aims is to encourage the formation of artificial eye support groups around the world.

So in the future, you will find:

  • Information and helpful tips about setting up support groups; and
  • Free profiling of support groups.

We are also happy to contact ocularists to explain the benefits of support groups and how they can be involved. A support group doesn’t need to be huge; it can be half a dozen people getting together over coffee to talk about their experiences.

In Western Australia we have seen the growth of the Arteyes group. Arteyes started as a Yahoo chat group. The group holds two events every year. A picnic and a bowling day. There are often eighty to one hundred people who turn up to the events. The feedback we receive indicates that there is a need for the group and there would be real benefits in other places for similar groups.

We would love to hear your ideas about what you would like on the site.

So please have a look at artificialeyes.net



Tis the Season to Take a Break

It’s that time of year again when Paul and Jenny need to have a little rest from their work.

Well, Jenny is going to put her feet up. Paul is off to the Philippines for a month to continue his work there.

Jenny is working up to Christmas Day, then is shutting the doors until January 5.

So from Paul and Jenny, have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!



Getting Out & About With An Artificial Eye

The recent ArtEyes Summer picnic in Kings Park was a great success.

We estimated between 60 to 70 people came along representing all ages.

It was not long ago people with eye loss hid themselves away for six weeks before they were fitted with a new artificial eye.

These days we fit a temporary eye much earlier. This meant that one young man in his twenties could attend the picnic with his temporary eye only four days after having his own eye removed.

We introduced him to two other men in their twenties. One has had a prosthetic eye for several years while the other has had his eye only five months.

The picnic enabled these men to meet and it seemed that they were keen to maintain contact in future.

Paul and I love these social events. We enjoy spending social time with clients and their families.

We are delighted that social events like these help people to realise they are not alone in the experience of eye loss and many others can relate to this major life event.

I am looking forward to seeing you at the next ArtEyes occasion.